US Nuns Dodge Specter of Sex Abuse

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2009 9:11 AM CDT
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents most American nuns, has declined to meet with abuse victims for years.   (©quinn.anya)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Last week the largest group of American nuns held its annual meeting, and once again they refused to let survivors of sexual abuse in Catholic schools attend. When even the bishops have acknowledged the depth and seriousness of abuse within the Church, it's strange for the nuns to bury their heads in the sand, writes Frances Kissling on Salon. "Perhaps it is simply too painful to listen," she says. "Much better to remember the Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman versions of religious life."

Most abuse took place decades ago, when sisters entered the order as immature teenagers. But there are untold numbers of Americans who suffered at their hands and have not come forward—and last spring's bombshell report by the Irish government, which revealed how children were treated like "slaves and prisoners" in Catholic-run institutions, is a reminder of the reckoning that hasn't happened here. "The urge to stand with the sisters is strong," Kissling writes. "But the survivors and victims must come first."